Selecting the right grass seed

The effort and time expended selecting the right grass species, mixes, and/or blends will be well spent. Consider the site, use, desired appearance, and management the turf will receive when selecting the species combination. Then select cultivars that best fulfill the desired outcome. Often, there may be more than one "good fit" between turf species, mixes, and/or blends for the specific situation. In such cases, cost and availability may become important factors in the final decision.

Levels of daily sunlight at the site is another major factor in selecting the right turfgrass. All grasses (both cool season and warm season) grow better with full sunlight. Some grasses will tolerate reduced levels of light.

When these steps are followed and the actual turf is planted, many potential problems will be reduced, or in the best of situations, eliminated.

Grass types are classified in various ways. The 2 major categories are Cool Season and Warm Season grasses.

Warm season grasses can handle the higher temperatures of summer found in the southern half of the country, but can't handle the cold temperatures found in the north. And cool season grasses can handle the cold, but can't handle the heat found in the south. Besides these obvious distinctions, there are also annual (grows for one season) and perennial grasses (grows for more than one season).

Although it may sound incredible, it's estimated that perhaps as much as 80% of US lawns are seeded with the wrong grass.

Walk into any garden center, hardware store or super­market in mid-May, and you will see counters piled with packages and bags of grass seed. It's the same in Texas or Minnesota, east coast or west coast.

Each package has a label, but shoppers, if they look at the label at all, are merely checking price, giving no thought of package content. After all, grass seed is grass seed.

Most of the seed bought is common ryegrass, a species which will sprout and grow in midsummer heat. Even though the grass itself is about the poorest thing possible to sow for a quality lawn, and even though it will be killed out the first winter, at least it will produce a quick green cover on the soil and almost without attention.

Even the perennial rye is not truly perennial north of the Ohio River. Each spring finds at least 95% of the grass dead. South of the Ohio River this grass may pull through occasionally, but it makes a poor, coarse turf when it does survive.

In the South, common ryegrass seed is sometimes sown in fall on a dormant, brown turf of Zoysia or other warm season grasses; this is done to produce a green effect in winter among grasses that are a good green only in warm weather. As a winter lawn, grown by itself, Common ryegrass is not bad, but the effect of a mottled mixture of green and dead brown is anything but attractive.

Grass mixtures

Lawn Seed BagHomeowners without years of experience will do well to consider planting grass seed mixtures or blends of grasses, rather than a single species of turf grass. If you really know what you're doing, and understand how to control diseases which might attack this particular single species of grass, the chances are a grass seed mixture or blend will survive without serious harm.

Beginners rarely have the necessary information to handle these problems and often run into unforeseen trouble. Changing environmental conditions also cause health problems for single species lawns that must be addressed properly and in a timely manner. Whereas one containing grass mixes should be able to have the majority of the turfgrass survive the unfavorable conditions.

Another advantage of using grass seed mixtures is that they tend to adjust to varying soil conditions found within a lawn, as well as differences in varying light.

Picture Perfect Lawn